Los Angeles celebrates 65 years of dismemberment

Los Angeles is a macabre little hamlet. It’s ironic that a city of such glittery glamour and dazzling lights also has the deepest and darkest underbelly of nearly any major American city. This city is all parties and famous people and rich people and lavish restaurants and bars and skylights. But this town also acts as an electrical coil that darkens and converts even the most unlikely crimes into notorious and mysterious legends. The city’s history is filled with crimes that have populated our culture with their deviant quirks and sinister promises. Why Los Angeles? I’ve always suspected it’s owing in part to a combination of LA being the “last stop” for many dream seekers. It is where personal fantasies are crushed or enlivened and there is a tragic tone to this starry-eyed mecca. Secondly, I believe the sprawling layout of the city is largely responsible. Los Angeles is physically a large city pocked with all manner of geographical nuances, from hills to canyons to ravines, all co-existing smartly among the Angelenos who choose to settle in this layered city of dark landscapes interspersed with neon and billboards. Los Angeles’ geography is spooky and mysterious and hides lurking evil.

Los Angeles is the city of mayhem. Mayhem is its soul. Crime committed in Los Angeles is especially vulnerable to possessing an extra twinge of depravity and gruesomeness.

It all began with Elizabeth Short. The circumstances of her murder are renowned and the lore of her gruesome, evil death mystify to this day. She was another pretty out-of-town girl who found herself coasting the shady underbelly of Los Angeles, an aspiring movie actress like everyone else here, and though she never found her break in life, she did in death. She became known as the Black Dahlia because she frequently dressed in black and had jet black hair, and otherwise seemed a 1940’s precursor to modern Goths. Elizabeth Short’s body was found in the Leimert Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, about 6 miles southwest of downtown. She was discovered by a woman taking her daughter for a walk on January 15, 1947. Short’s body had been cut in half at the waist. Long incisions had been carved from the corners of her mouth to her ears. She had been drained of all blood and her wrists and ankles showed signs of having been tied wth rope. Her severed torso was laid out with her arms bent directly above her head at 90 degree angles, as if she were lifting a barbell.

Courtesy Black Dahlia Web Site (http://www.bethshort.com/about-beth.php)

Further adding to the mysterious legacy of Short’s murder was that the killer was never found. Many attention seekers confessed to the murder. Rumors abounded. But the killer was never found or tried.

Things have not changed in the City of Angels. A dark evil pall hovers over this metropolis. When you peer at the city from a lofty viewpoint, such as Griffith Park, you will see lights stretching into the distant horizon like an ocean of relentless cityscape. But if you allow yourself to “see,” you will note there are equals parts darkness and void. Interspersed with the comforting swath of light are arrows of enveloping darkness. This is where Los Angeles’ renowned noir sensibilities lurk. This is your peril.

The city of the macabre and unsettling coincidences and parallels.

Almost 65 years later to the day, last Tuesday, January 17, Lauren Kornberg, a professional dog walker (it’s Hollywood) was walking eight clients with her mom near Bronson Canyon Park in the Hollywood Hills when Ali, a Golden Retriever, sniffed out a human head wrapped in a plastic bag deep in a ravine which Lauren at first believed to be a movie prop. Obviously, it was not. Police were called in and subsequent investigation uncovered matching hands and feet, also dismembered, in the adjacent wilderness area not far from Brad Pitt’s hillside estate. But that’s all they could find. The remainder of the body (and parts) have not been found.

The victim was identified this weekend as Hervey Medellin, a 66-year-old former Mexicana Airlines employee who lived on De Longpre Avenue in Hollywood.

Reports have surfaced that he lived with his boyfriend but references to his ex-wife have also surfaced. Police have stressed that his live-in boyfriend is not a suspect or a person of interest, and in fact, he filed a missing persons report for Medellin on January 9. Police are still searching for the remainder of Medellin’s body and have not made any arrests. Some stories have claimed that Medellin frequently hiked in the hills near where his head was found, leading some to wonder if this was a random murder, but police are still interviewing people. Intriguingly, a human torso was found 500 miles away near the Tucson Mountains in Arizona on January 6, but police dismiss the connection, though law enforcement for both cities has been in touch. It is said that the torso belongs to a male and is missing the head, hands and feet.

Years ago I bought a book called Fallen Angels. It was a series of chronicles of notorious Los Angeles murders with a handy map reference to Thomas Brothers’ Los Angeles edition’s pages and grids showing the scenes of the crimes. I dig this stuff. This was before the internet and especially before Google Earth. Back then I was forced to rely on the 2-dimensional cartographic layout to illustrate where John Belushi died or where Sal Mineo was stabbed to death. Now there is Google Earth which is equally evil for the glimpse it gives us into the scene of the crime as seen by a roving camera from years previous.

This image from Google Earth shows a bird’s eye view of the approximate location Medellin’s head was found in the Hollywood Hills.

Note the contrasting rustic and mountainous anonymity conjoined with the bustle of Tinsel Town to the south. Los Angeles’ soul is dark and burrowed deeply into our geographical psyche. Dismemberment is our town’s civic pride.

  • David

    Wow, very legitimate suspicions that this may have been the work of Luka Magnotta.


    Did Accused Canadian Cannibal Luka Magnotta Strike in Hollywood?

    Los Angeles police are in contact with Canadian authorities to determine if Luka Magnotta, suspected in the murder and cannibalism of his gay lover, was also involved in a gruesome decapitation in Hollywood earlier this year.
    “We are in touch with the Montreal police,” an LAPD spokesman told ABC News. “We’ll see if there’s any connection.”
    Magnotta, 29, is currently in a German jail awaiting extradition to Canada, where police say he allegedly murdered Chinese student Jun Lin around May 24. Magnotta is accused of killing Lin with an ice pick and dismembering his corpse, some pieces of which he had sex with and others he ate.
    Magnotta is also accused of sending Lin’s severed limbs in the mail to schools and government offices.
    Los Angeles police are investigating if Magnotta may also be connected to the murder and dismemberment of Hervey Medellin, 66, whose decapitated body was discovered under the iconic Hollywood sign in January.
    Magnotta and Lin were gay lovers, according to Montreal police. Los Angeles police confirmed Medellin, a former Mexican Airlines employee, was openly gay.
    Medellin’s head was discovered in Bronson Canyon Park on Jan. 17 when a dog discovered a plastic bag that contained its head. The accompanying dog walker called the police who discovered severed hands and feet during the course of a two day search.
    Citing privacy concerns, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency would not confirm if Magnotta, a gay porn actor, was in the United States at the time.
    However, posts on one of several Facebook accounts attributed to Magnotta, and which bears his name, date from February and suggest he was in Los Angeles at the time. In those bulletins, first discovered by the New York Observer, the poster appears to be arranging appointments to offer massages and includes a phone number with an L.A. area code.
    “Raymond and I are doing massages at his place on La Bra, pick me up at his place after we’re done and we’ll go out. I NEED A JOINT,” reads one post, dated Feb. 19.
    In addition to the sexuality of both victims, the crimes appear to bear some resemblance. In each case the head, hands and feet were severed.
    The killers in each case also appear to be seeking some publicity. Medellin’s killer placed his head near the Hollywood sign, guaranteeing discovery. Montreal police confirm that Magnotta is the man seen killing, dismembering and eating his victim in a video posted on line.
    On May 29, a human foot was found by a receptionist who received a blood-soaked package at the Ottawa headquarters of the Conservative Party of Canada. A second package containing a hand was seized at a post office in Ottawa later in the day. The parts were later confirmed to belong to Lin.
    On Tuesday, packages containing another foot and hand, also believed to belong to Lin, were received by two Vancouver elementary schools.
    Lin’s head is still missing.
    Magnotta is expected to be extradited back to Canada before the end of June.

  • Pingback: Linkage is Good for You: January 29th, 2011 Edition()

  • Huitzilopochtli’s revenge…

  • There are layers and layers and layers of primordial ooze festering under our great town! Bad shit happens everywhere, of course, but people here are possessed.

  • Sojourner

    ” I’ve always suspected it’s owing in part to a combination of LA being the “last stop” for many dream seekers. It is where personal fantasies are crushed or enlivened and there is a tragic tone to this starry-eyed mecca.” I gotta say this is one of the better descriptions of this crazy city that I’ve ever read. It’s most certainly a city full of ironies and juxtapositions which go on for miles and miles. Didn’t hear about this murder though (don’t watch much news (local or national) period) but it doesn’t surprise me. Who know’s what else goes on in this place?

  • What is “Thomas Bros”?! LOL!
    Hmm, this is one weird story. Of course my question is was Hervey legal or illegal?! THAT is the real story! LOL!
    Actually the “media” refer to the guy as Hervey’s “roommate”. Whatever. It is 2012 after all.
    Remember the best trail of mayhem was produced by Chuckie Manson and the gang. YET, MY tax dollars are keeping that scum alive and well in San Quentin or some state prison. I am surprised Jerry Brown is not sending HIM to some county jail. Yup, Manson is reason #1 for the death penalty.
    Anyhow, this story will be interesting.

    • The Scientologists scare me more than Chuck.

      • Amy

        Scientologists are strange, but I’ve yet to see one as evil as old Chuck. Brrrrrrr!

        • David

          They are abundant in Hollywood.

          I’ve always felt Scientology is the ideal “religion” for Hollywood types because it is a worship of the self above all. These people are zombies in their blue slacks and zoned out expressions. And they drink coffee like it’s going out of style.

          • Yeah, I don’t get it. Can’t take medicine to help you out, but load up on the coffee! Hmm, maybe a conspiracy? Why don’t you try that one out on your bud Alex Jones?! LOL!

      • Yeah, they are really rampant in Old Town Pasadena. They opened one of their “churches” on Raymond near Colorado. Whenever they try to give me their propaganda, I just tell them they are nothing but heathens in a cult. And of course, they go right on their merry way. Not to bother me again. Why I just thought this, I do not know. You know there are all these young punks that walk around with Che Guevara t-shirts? Mark my words, soon it will be Charles Manson t-shirts. Just another political prisoner.